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MIT student blogger Mitra L. '07

14.11: Putting Social Science to the Test—Field Experiments in Economics by Mitra L. '07

A new class on experimental social science, including: race discrimination, gender differences in behavior, persuasion, corruption and voting

One of the economics electives I have signed up for is 14.11: Putting Social Science to the Test – Field Experiments in Economics. From what I hear, this class was just created this year, and this is the first semester it’s being offered. I think the website is enrollee-only, so here’s some information on what we’re going to study:

What is 14.11?
14.11 is a new class on the topic of field (that is, “in situ”) and laboratory experiments in the social sciences — both what these experiments have taught and can teach us and how to conduct them.
The class has three major components:

1. In lecture, we will discuss (and you will read research papers on) 12 major substantive topics addressed by experimental social science, including: race discrimination, gender differences in behavior, persuasion, corruption and voting. (See the syllabus on this site for a complete list).

2. Each lecture will also cover methodological topics that will aid you in designing, conducting, analyzing and presenting a field or laboratory experiment.

3. You, the student, will conduct an original experimental study (i.e., not only library or Google research) with human subjects. There will be a number of structured assignments and milestones leading to the planning, execution, write-up and presentation of this research.

List of topics:
1. Race discrimination
2. Gender differences in economic environments
3. Improving educational outcomes
4. Incentives
5. Intrinsic motivation and fairness
6. Commitment and self-control
7. Learning and social effects
8. Jury/advocacy
9. Housing experiments
10. Voting behavior and political economy
11. Public health and persuasion
12. Corruption/incentives

I am SO excited for this class!

4 responses to “14.11: Putting Social Science to the Test—Field Experiments in Economics”

  1. Phil says:

    Have you read Freakonomics? If you haven’t it would definatley serve to get you more hyped up than you already seem to be. I read it this summer during my college-o-thon, and it definatley impacted me. I say impacted, but what I really mean is jaded. Because during my college-o-thon (as I have affectionatley dubbed it) I kept coming to each university thinking–for some innane reason–that I wanted to be an economist.

    The book obviously is worth reading as it nearly compromised my entire educational future.

  2. Mitra says:

    Hey Phil,

    Yup, I’ve read Freakonomics. The economist (Steve Levitt) who co-wrote it got his PhD from MIT =)

    Read more at http://mitra.mitblogs.com/archives/2005/06/mit_references.html

  3. saikumar says:

    Hi.

    Do u have something called ‘ragging’ MIT??

    I persume u r indian and that u know abt it..

    Saikumar

  4. Mitra says:

    Hey Saikumar,

    Nope, I’m not Indian, so I don’t know what “ragging” is.

    Mitra